Houses and graveyards and airplanes, oh my

Sandra ClarkAround Town, Feature

Powell’s iconic Airplane Filling Station has a new owner – Knox Heritage. The announcement came at the Preservation Awards ceremony of Knox Heritage and the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance, held Nov. 1 at the East Tennessee History Center.


The preservation group that restored (saved) the airplane and saw it placed on the National Register of Historic Places, wanted more permanent ownership for the structure, now used as a barber shop.

Roch Bernard accepted a Preservation Award from Knox Heritage. “We are happy to recognize the completion of this very significant restoration project,” said presenter Chad Tindell. “We didn’t have to borrow any money and we did it piece by piece,” said Bernard.

Clockwise from top left, Rick Mallory, Paul James, Roch Bernard and Kyle Anne Lang.

The Airplane Filling Station was one of 10 Knox County projects to receive awards for 2018. The others:

Rick Mallory was recognized for his restoration of the 1930 Abe Schwartz house at 714 Beaman Street in the Chilhowee Park neighborhood. “This grand home sat vacant, condemned and badly deteriorated for seven years,” said Tindell. Mallory began the restoration in 2017.

Paul James accepted the award given the Knoxville History Project’s newest publication, “Knoxville’s National Cemetery – A Short History.” It was researched and written by Jack Neely with editing and images sourced by James.

Dewhirst Properties was recognized for its restoration of the Keener Lighting Building, located at the corner of World’s Fair Park Drive and Broadway. The 1929 building is now home to local college students.

Johnson Architecture was saluted for the restoration design of Marble Hall, built in 1958 as the chapel for Lakeshore Hospital. It was repurposed as a community space with restrooms to serve Lakeshore Park.

Bob and Melynda Whetsel

Bob and Melynda Whetsel were honored for their restoration of 1012 Gratz Street, a 1913 craftsman home in Historic Fourth & Gill. Bob said he has received awards now in four decades, starting with a home restoration in 1989, but “don’t look for us back in 10 years.”

Park City Improvement Company and Sparkman & Associates Architects were cited for the restoration of the 1929 H.G. Hill Grocery Store at 2300 E. Magnolia Ave. The Park City partnership includes John Craig, James Rochelle, Jennifer Montgomery and Suzy Trotta. Trotta Montgomery Real Estate now occupies most of the building with an adjacent space available for lease.

The Dewine Building at 730 N. Broadway has been renovated to a 600-person community event space and performance venue The Press Room by RRI Project LLC. Jim Klonaris accepted on behalf of himself and his wife. “This is our second big project,” he said. The first was Café 4 downtown. Sanders Pace Architecture restored the building and it retains historic elements that include the original steel truss structure, wood decking, concrete floors and brick walls. It was most recently operated as Knoxville Printers Inc.

Kyle Anne Lang was a crowd favorite, earning recognition for restoring 2115 Coker Ave., which she purchased in 2016 through the city’s Homemaker’s Program. The house had been abandoned and condemned for 11 years. She spent 10 months on restoration.

The Museum of History was honored for its 25th anniversary. Opened in 1993 by the East Tennessee Historical Society, the museum has collected over 15,000 artifacts and produced award-winning interpretive exhibits.

Knox Heritage has “made it to gold” on the GuideStar list of non-profits, said Todd Morgan, executive director. “Now we’re going for platinum.” Outgoing board chair Gary Bentley praised the “incredible staff” of Knox Heritage, saying, “It’s amazing what they do.”

He acknowledged Kim Trent, who stepped down as executive director after 15 years. “Under her leadership we saved and restored 17 houses, restored and made a permanent headquarters at Historic Westwood, 3425 Kingston Pike, and formed the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance with 16 member counties.”

Incoming board chair Chad Tindell agreed that life is good at Knox Heritage. “My job is not to screw it up.”

Six regional winners were named:

Hoskins Drug Store in downtown Clinton, restored by sisters Mollie Farrar and Jenky Walker, granddaughters of the store’s founder, R.C. Hoskins. The facility now houses a high-end floral and home décor shop.

Mollie Farrar and Jenky Walker

Narrow Ridge, a Grainger County non-profit formed by Bill Nickle to study, teach and demonstrate sustainability. It sponsors the annual Hogskin History Day.

Bethel United Methodist Church in Morristown, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 28, 2018. Located at 703 N. Cumberland St., it was organized just after the Civil War. It’s the last building standing associated with the former Morristown College.

Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, restored as a distillery and tourist attraction. It reopened in August. Info: tourbrushy.com.

Sevier County had two winners: the Sevier county Courthouse clock tower and artist Mary Ruden for volunteer on displays inside the courthouse.

(Editor’s Note: This article was modified from an earlier version which misstated that the East Tennessee Historical Society is the new owner of the Airplane Filling Station. This is the first of a series called Our Story, a historical perspective of Knoxville, Tenn., today. Check back each Tuesday and contact sandra.clark@knoxtntoday.com to suggest future topics.)

Accepting a Presentation Award from Todd Morgan (left) and Gary Bentley (right) of Knox Heritage are the Park City Improvement Company: John Craig, Jennifer Montgomery, James Rochelle and Suzy Trotta.

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